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Ohio’s Best Employment Discrimination Attorney Reply: Can I sue if my co-workers retaliate for reporting them for racial discrimination? What should I do if a fellow employee is harassing me for what I said to HR about his gender discrimination? Do I have a claim against a coworker who retaliated against me for reporting her to Human Resources?

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There may be a time where you find that your co-workers or supervisors you do not report to say or take some action against you because of your race/color or have engaged in a protected activity. Maybe your co-worker said something that your believe is gender discrimination or sexual harassment and you felt the need to speak out. Or maybe you are hearing from the grapevine some grumblings about accommodations you are receiving for your disability. Do employment laws protect you from reporting or opposing such conduct?

In Ohio, it surely does. Ohio has a very broad anti-retaliation statute that encompasses retaliation from supervisors all the way to co-workers.

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person to discriminate in any manner against any other person because that person [1] has opposed any unlawful discriminatory practice defined in this section or [2] because that person has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing under sections 4112.01 to 4112.07 of the Revised Code.

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In Wiltz v. Accounting Board of Ohio, the Tenth District Court of Appeals, which is located in Columbus, Ohio, held in favor of an employee who accused the accounting board of Ohio, which did not employ the employee, of engaging in unlawful retaliation under the statute. The court, in its decisions decided the trial court should not have dismissed the employees complaint against the ABO because she “stated a claim in her complaint that the ABO violated R.C. 4112.02(I) by discriminating against her because she opposed any unlawful discriminatory practice defined in R.C. 4112.02-i.e., discharge without just cause because of race-by opposing her termination “because of her black race” and “violations of the laws against discrimination.” We further find that appellant stated a claim in her complaint that the ABO violated R.C. 4112.02(J) by aiding and abetting her former employer in doing any act declared by this section to be an unlawful discriminatory practice-i.e., to discriminate against appellant because of race regarding any matter directly or indirectly related to employment-by disseminating false and misleading information and documents to “perspective” [sic] employers “to cause [her] to lose work and [her] right to earn a living, and because of [her] black race.” The court went on to hold:

we also consider appellant’s allegation that the ABO “also gave the [knowingly false and misleading information and documents] to my former employer, so that its agents could circulate them to others (and with knowledge that they intended to circulate them), including to my perspective [sic] employers and to others that I had made aware of the violations of laws.” (Complaint, 5.)

Construing these excerpts from the complaint in a light most favorable to appellant and drawing all reasonable inferences in her favor, we find that appellant stated a claim in her complaint that the ABO violated R.C. 4112.02(I) by discriminating against her because she opposed any unlawful discriminatory practice defined in R.C. 4112.02-i.e., discharge without just cause because of race-by opposing her termination “because of her black race” and “violations of the laws against discrimination.” We further find that appellant stated a claim in her complaint that the ABO violated R.C. 4112.02(J) by aiding and abetting her former employer in doing any act declared by this section to be an unlawful discriminatory practice-i.e., to discriminate against appellant because of race regarding any matter directly or indirectly related to employment-by disseminating false and misleading information and documents to “perspective” [sic] employers “to cause [her] to lose work and [her] right to earn a living, and because of [her] black race.”

The takeaway from Wiltz is that even an outside agency that did not employ the discharged employee can be found liable for retaliation under the statute. Therefore, even co-workers who do not employ you can be held liable under the statute for retaliation.

If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have been wrongfully fired or terminated;” or “I have been discriminated against based on my …” race, national origin, gender, age, religion or disability; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 291-4744. The Spitz Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.

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